How Can I Be More Emotionally Intelligent? 3 Tips to Build Your EQ

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How Can I Be More Emotionally Intelligent? 3 Tips to Build Your EQ

Adapted from Monica and Michael Berg’s Spiritually Hungry podcast. Listen and subscribe here.
March 25, 2024
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Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) is the ability to understand and manage the emotions of other people and our own. Putting the time and effort into growing our EQ is the foundation of any long-lasting, fulfilling relationship, whether it be familiar, platonic, or romantic, and there are studies that show it is key to being successful in business and other areas of life.

Likewise, low emotional intelligence is at the foundation of why things often fall apart in relationships, work, and life. People who are low in EQ tend to be argumentative, have trouble listening, default to blaming others, and are prone to emotional outbursts. Cultivating emotional intelligence is a transformative experience that is key to building a successful, fulfilling life. 

Here are 3 tips to strengthen your emotional intelligence: 

1. Devote time to identifying your emotions and what triggers them. 

Very often, we think of EQ as how aware we are of other people’s emotions and how well we can navigate them, but the reality is it starts with our own. If we aren’t emotionally intelligent with ourselves, it is much more difficult to understand other people. 

To be emotionally intelligent is to know and understand your inner world in great detail. It’s about identifying the milestones in your life that make up your past and seeing how these events and experiences have shaped you as a person and influenced the decisions you make. It’s also about recognizing your emotions when they arise and what triggers them. When we aren’t aware of our true feelings, we are at their mercy. The more self-aware we are, the quicker we can bounce back from life’s upsets. If you are going along in your day and something triggers an emotion, try to figure out why specifically.

Take some time to determine where you are in your EQ journey. Ask yourself some key questions: Can I control my anger? Do I take accountability for my actions? Do I show up authentically in relationships? Do I generally trust others? Do I feel comfortable communicating with others about sensitive topics? Am I able to make tough decisions thoughtfully? Self-reflection and introspection are key components of being emotionally intelligent with yourself and a necessary springboard to start understanding and navigating the emotions of other people.

2. Practice empathy by recognizing and reflecting on other people’s emotions. 

Empathy is a fundamental skill that must be developed all the time, no matter how old we are. It entails recognizing other people’s pain or discomfort, internalizing it, and taking time to meditate and reflect on it. Recognizing emotions in others through social cues, facial expressions, and nonverbal communication is all part of being empathetic. 

When we see someone in need, our instinct is often to help them. While that is important, it’s not enough to build empathy and emotional intelligence. Don’t just try to problem-solve for other people; seek to recognize and feel their emotions.  Pay attention to what you learn and remember it for the future. Put yourself in someone’s shoes, feel what they feel, and then offer something they need.

3. Strive to judge others less and remove unrealistic expectations.

We all see the world through our unique lenses, determined by countless factors like our upbringing, our environment, our education, and our life experiences. When we criticize others, it’s because we see them through our lens, judging them based on our experience of life that is very different than theirs. We get upset when others don’t speak or behave the way we would in their situation. The truth is that we can never really walk in someone else’s shoes. It’s very likely that if we had lived the life they had, we would make the same choices. 

One of the biggest problems in relationships is that we expect the other person to think, behave, and speak as we do, and when they fall short of that, we get angry. Any healthy relationship must begin with the understanding that the other person has their own life experiences and viewpoints that make them who they are. Give the grace that comes from knowing they have a different outlook. Check your expectations of other people, often they are unfair. When we remove expectations, we allow people to give freely and show up in the way they do. That creates an opening for connection, which is ultimately where we want to go. 

Emotional intelligence is one of the most important areas we can develop for all our relationships to grow and thrive. Make time to get in touch with your own emotions and triggers, and from that place, strive for greater and greater empathy for others without judgment or criticism. Not only will this improve your connections with other people, it will also strengthen your connection with yourself and with the Creator. 

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